Sun Aug 14 2011: Pictures from the Golden Circle

First full day in Iceland, and we booked ourselves on a tour of the area surrounding Reykjavik. We were still a bit jetlagged, and I don't think we were thinking straight, in retrospect it would have been better to take the bikes, but this was a good way to see the "Golden Circle", a collection of natural wonders all within a few hours drive from the city. Very nice to have a tour guide as well, we slept a lot in the van... :)

Our first stop took us to Seljalandfoss, probably the most famous waterfall in Iceland. About 60m in height, a neat feature is the fact that you can walk behind it.

Seljalandfoss from a distance

Seljalandfoss. You can see the trail that leads behind the falls

View from Seljalandfoss

Looking over the landscape at the top of Seljalandsfoss

Posing in front of Seljalandfoss

Photographer perched precariously trying to get "The Shot". Steep drop to his front and back.

What is she taking a picture of...!?!

This is the shot Neda was aiming for

Black beaches of the south shore are composed of crushed volcanic rock

Imagining vikings landing on the black beaches of the south shore

We were told that not a lot of vegetables grow in Iceland. That's not true, we found Icelandic broccoli everywhere!

Icelandic horses

There is quite a lot of farmland and animals around the Golden Circle. We stopped at the side of the road to take pictures of some beautiful Icelandic horses. Small in stature, they are higly sought around the world for breeding and competitions. However, once a horse leaves the island, they are never allowed to return home again, for fear that foreign germs will harm the other horses. I am imagining this Icelandic native is wistfully taking one last look around before leaving home forever.

Turf house. Timber is scarce on the island, as there is no natural forest on Iceland.
Houses used to have roofs made of earth and grass to save on wood.

We were told that there is no natural forest on Iceland and that if we saw any trees that were over 2 meters tall, they were probably planted by human beings. The running joke is:

Q: If you get lost in an Icelandic forest, how do you find your way out?
A: Stand up.

Bjork diner for lunch. This is as close as I'm ever going to come... Bjork means "Beautiful Ice Midget"" in Icelandic. Or maybe "Birch Tree"...

Posing in front of Skogarfoss

The view of Skogarfoss from above. Magnificent!

Neda is scaling the foothills of the Solheimajokull.

Our next stop was Solheimajokull. Kull means glacier in Icelandic, and Solheimajokull is the snout of the larger glacier mass called Myrdasjokul, the 4th largest glacier in Iceland. If you can imagine the glaciers are the size and shape of your hand, what you are seeing here is just a part of the fingernail!

Ice climbers prepare to climb the Solheimajokull. Without proper ice climbing shoes
and equipment, it is not possible to go beyond the foothills of the glacier.

Closeup of the Solheimajokull. The ice is dirty with ash from the volcano that it covers.

At the town of Geysir, an unearthly blue boil erupts from the broken surface of the ground

Geezer waiting patiently for the geyser to blow

Only the second day and according to Neda, the whole Viking thing is close to being played out.
I, on the otherhand, have different views on the matter...

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